You’ve heard it said that the days are long but the years are short. If you are a mom, you’ve experienced this to be true. When the kids are little, you spend your days constantly feeding, changing, wiping, fixing, answering and the list goes on. Raising kids takes a LOT of work! But, they are growing up before our eyes and with each passing year those little tasks we’re needed for diminishes.
For those of you that don’t know, I’m a mom of two boys (13 and 11) and a nine year old girl. I can hardly believe that I have a teenager. So, you can trust me when I say it goes by fast! So fast, in fact, that I sense the urgency in spending time with them. Not just casual time (even though that’s important) but one-on-one time. I’m talking about the times that they will remember as they grow older.
The world we live in is all about multi-tasking. We order in a drive-through and eat while we are driving to sports practice. We use our smart phones to answer emails while we sit on the couch with the kids. I’m challenging us to throw away this multi-tasking concept so we can give our children undivided attention. All our lives are different, so maybe this will happen once a day, once a week or once a month. Whatever it is, make it quality. Make it count.
If you have multiple children, we’re talking about spending time with each child alone. Of course spending time with the children together is important, but quality alone time will really feel like a treasure to each child (especially when they have siblings and are used to sharing parent time.) As adults, we don’t like to feel like we are blending into a crowd. Our children don’t either, so this special one-on-one time that we carve out is going to boost their self-esteem and feel like they are seen, heard and known.
FIVE TIPS ON SPENDING ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH EACH CHILD
1. If you are going to be running an errand, take one of your children with you. This can be as simple as picking up a gallon of milk at the store. If I’m going to be running to several places, we’ll stop to get frozen yogurt or something special. Unique tasks are also a fun time to bring a child along. Dropping off clothes to a homeless shelter can open up some interesting topics of conversation. My husband will always bring one of the kids with him when he takes the cars to the car wash. He’s been doing it since they were little and the boys especially love being in the car and the experience of driving through the car wash. The bonus is that you’ll have one-on-one time in the car. I’ve found that our conversations in the car (with no distractions) have been very meaningful.
2. Before we put our children to bed, we go into each of them and chat for a bit and then pray together. They each have their own bed, so they each have their own little quiet time with us as they are winding down. Sometimes things that happened at school or something they are worried about will come up. These conversations are special and and easy way to build in a tradition of one-on-one time every day.
3. One more very simple way to carve out alone time with each child is through walking. We happen to have a pet that needs to be walked twice a day. (But, you can walk without a pet too!) My husband or I will take on this task either before school or after dinner and we will bring one of the children with us. Again, it’s this idea of slowing down, putting away distractions and just talking that creates a bond and allows children a safe place to be nurtured.
4. Planning a date in the same way you would with your husband or wife is a way to spend quality time with your child. We will plan ahead, put it on the calendar and take turns with the children getting to go on a mommy date or a daddy date. Sometimes we get dressed up and do something fancy or sometimes we do something simple like get our nails painted at the salon around the corner. Either way, a child will feel special and loved by the thoughtful planning.
5. Yearly vacations are a great way for us to invest in our children. We are going as a family, but throughout the week, one of us might ask one of the kids to go snorkeling while the others hang out at the beach or take a trip to the grocery store to pick up snacks. There are no distractions or responsibilities for this week, so it’s ripe with opportunities to have one-on-one time with each child. Another type of vacation we’ve done is a one-on-one trip with a child as they are entering middle school. My husband took our oldest to the Grand Canyon and they were able to talk about the changes ahead and becoming a man. My middle son will be having his trip this summer and in a few short years I’ll be planning a trip for my daughter. We decided the purpose of the trip was to drill home the idea that my mom/dad loves me and I can talk to him about anything. Of course, tons of fun is had on the trip…sprinkled with deep conversations.